Modernism and Postmodernism in Lithuanian Ceramics
To describe contemporary
Lithuanian ceramic works, art critics refer to the term of Postmodernism.
The term was introduced in reference to art of the turn of the 20th
century, which reflected the tendencies of post-industrial society,
which departed from the principles of Modernism and avant-garde art.
In Lithuania, traditional concept of ceramic art has also changed. Of
value is no longer artistic form, but a concept. Some unique qualities
of material are no longer important, as the material itself becomes
emblematic of a certain idea. Yet the question remains whether Lithuanian
ceramics has really reflected a revolt against Modernism.
Social and political climate in Socialist Lithuania kept Lithuanian
ceramic art in isolation from world developments, resulting in a certain
inhibition and technical retardation. Yet even then some links with
the processes taking place in ceramic art in Western countries were
visible. Influenced by their teachers, Lithuanian ceramicists pursued
two directions: traditional and Oriental. During the inter-war period
the impact of modern avant-garde trends was minimal. The influential
professor Liudvikas Strolis championed Oriental concept of ceramic art,
which he had borrowed via French school. Him and Jonas Mikėnas
tried to graft local folk traditions into period ceramic works, yet
it received a superficial treatment in many pieces. The heritage of
the pioneers of Lithuanian ceramic art, L. Strolis for one, is valuable
above all due to their technological achievement.
Some reflections of late modernism are seen in the works of the end
of the 1960s. It was also a period of political "thawing
and more active participation of Lithuanian artists in international
artistic events. Young artists felt less pressure from the authority
of seniors. The result was increase in number of works of decorative
character and modern ones in public spaces and exhibitions.
The change on Lithuanian ceramic art scene was stimulated by the international
symposiums in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. Numerous exhibitions held in the
last decade were dominated by conceptual work. Without any more conspicuous
revolt against belated Modernism, contemporary ceramicists started making
use of diverse vocabulary of Postmodernism. This varied mixture is technique
is stimulated by discovery and rediscovery of ceramic technologies.